Cumberland is looking to streamline the process for accessory dwelling units near downtown. Record file photo

Cumberland is looking to streamline the process for accessory dwelling units near downtown. Record file photo

Cumberland to streamline its densification process

Village wants to save staff time, costs for applicants for accessory dwelling units

The Village of Cumberland is trying to simplify approval processes for new developments.

The first target has been guidelines around accessory dwelling units (ADU), which the village is looking to as a way to help provide more affordable housing and increase density through infill, especially close to the downtown core.

“Over the next several months we’ll be bringing a number of these recommendations to council,” said manager of development services Courtney Simpson.

To provide council an overview of what changes are expected, Urban Systems consultant Nancy Henderson gave a presentation at the July 11 meeting.

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The village is moving ahead in the area of ADU guidelines, according to Henderson, so it was the logical place to start. Cumberland was already having success at getting ADUs built on residential properties, even without a new plan in place.

“It’s certainly something we saw as low-hanging fruit, so to speak,” she said.

In fact, Cumberland has been featured as a case study in a BC Housing literature review.

Henderson also pointed out that ADUs do fit with the official community plan (OCP) and its growth management strategy as a way for Cumberland to meet its goals around growth.

“It does identify ADUs as being a significant measure to achieve the goals of the OCP and also supporting rental households,” she said.

One of the main reasons the village wishes to streamline the process for developments is because of the amount of staff resources required, specifically by adding extra time to the process. As well, applicants face increased costs to make applications for additions.

The changes proposed for ADUs include details such as access dimensions and parking requirements. According to the staff report, recommendations include amending the OCP to exempt ADUs from the development permit process and amending the zoning bylaw. As well, the village would update application guides and brochures to outline the process clearly and encourage use of certain materials.

One issue is privacy, especially around sites built on slopes, but there are measures being considered such as screening. Another idea is to set a height limit for the ADU based on the main home on the property.

Another question from council was around use of materials, such as whether there were controls to restrict certain building materials, though Henderson explained that as controls shift from zoning regulations over to development permit provisions, the village can only encourage certain practices or materials rather than restrict them.

The next steps are to send the ADU report to the Advisory Planning Commission as well as the Accessibility and the Homelessness and Affordable Housing committees for comment, and have staff draft a bylaw to amend development permit procedures for council to consider. The community will be able to provide input prior to a bylaw being adopted.

“There would be an opportunity for the public to come out,” Henderson said.



mike.chouinard@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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